Coronavirus: Dubai restaurant boss serves up free biryani to those hit hard by Covid-19
Rhythm Arora wants to support residents who have been laid off because of the pandemic
An Indian restaurateur in Dubai is serving up free plates of biryani to any walk-in customers who are facing financial hardship because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Rhythm Arora, owner of Kobe Sizzlers in Karama, said her restaurant had the capacity to give free meals to 60 people per day.
She started the initiative 25 days ago after learning about the struggles that people in the UAE are facing, especially those who were laid off by their company and job seekers who were stranded because of travel restrictions.
“I can understand the pain of sleeping hungry at night, so I wanted to help in any way that I could,” Ms Arora told The National.
“We are giving a plate of biryani, yoghurt and a drink to people who no longer have jobs and those who are stranded here.”
She said her restaurant, which opened its doors four months ago, will welcome customers who want to eat for free “any time of the day”.
Posters outside the building invite people to come in.
“It’s mostly bachelors who are coming, but there is also this one man who used to visit every day and would ask for a takeaway so he could go home and eat with his wife,” Ms Arora said.
“He lost his job and the free food was really helping him. He and his wife were finally able to return to their home country.”
She said her restaurant was not far from accommodation where several unemployed people live.
The exact number of people in the UAE who are unemployed because of Covid-19 is not known, but hundreds of thousands of people registered with their diplomatic missions for repatriation, many of whom lost their jobs.
More than 450,000 Indians in the Emirates registered to fly back home since travel restrictions were put in place in March, as did 82,456 Pakistanis, of which 21,843 were residents who had been laid off and 32,497 were sent on unpaid or paid leave.
Farzan Hassan, 34, is a Pakistani who was fired by his employer after the business suffered a downturn.
He is one of many who visit Ms Arora’s restaurant for a free, hot plate of biryani.
“This is a good step to help those who have been impacted,” he told The National.
“How can we look for jobs and try to impress a new employer when our stomachs are empty? It has been a real struggle for me. I have not had a job since the pandemic started. I was working as an electrician before, but I was laid off.”
Mr Hassan has been staying at bachelor accommodation and he said his friends have been supporting him financially.
He hopes to secure a new job in Dubai.
Dozens of other restaurants have also come forward to help the unemployed with free meals, including Des Pardes, a Pakistani restaurant in Oud Metha.
A Pakistani in Dubai who owns four restaurants also delivered free food when movement restrictions were put in place.
Updated: June 30, 2020 10:12 AM